That’s The Way Things Are

Get with the times


If you’re a woman, don’t try to play a round of golf at Augusta National.

I mean, you can try, but it ain’t gonna happen. They aren’t going to let you.

The golf club founded in 1933 clearly thinks it’s still in the 1930’s. They don’t let women join the club, period. Not that their discriminatory membership policy against women was OK even then, but…

The most elite golf club in the country is also home to The Masters golf tournament which, of course, just concluded. IBM is the largest sponsor of the tournament, and traditionally, the CEO of the company is always extended an invitation to become a member of Augusta National. The computer giant, at least publically, has never voiced opposition to this policy.

But this year, there’s a new wrinkle. For the first time, IBM has a female CEO, Virginia Rometty.

What an opportunity for IBM to step up and take a stand for the betterment of our society and our country — to tell Augusta National and The Masters that if they don’t change their policy, IBM will pull its sponsorship dollars from the tournament.

It would have been nice if the company did so when they had male CEOs, or even if other sponsors of the tournament had done so, but there’s a window here now, with a female CEO who can’t be genuinely OK with this policy of gender discrimination.

As the CEO of IBM, Ms. Rometty may want to ignore being blackballed by Augusta National because sponsoring the tournament is good for business, but how good would it be if protesters decided to boycott her products?

Besides, as a female, Augusta’s discriminatory policy surely has to irk her. And as a person, she has to recognize that she’s now in a position to do a great deal of good, not just her gender, but our society and nation as a whole.

It’s amazing to me that in this day and age, a club in the United States of America, private or otherwise, still has a policy in place that doesn’t allow certain people to join, simply and solely because they are women.

And who knows what other demographic groups — in a more “unofficially public” capacity — aren’t allowed to join the club?

They refuse to disclose their membership policies to any non-members, so what are they hiding? Do they also have a policy not to admit Jewish people? Hispanics? Gay people? Muslims?

But that’s the thing. They’re a private club, so the law is on their side, Legally speaking, they can do whatever they want. They can choose not to admit people who simply wear brown socks.

However, there are certain instances where just because the law allows something, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s right. And clearly, this is one of those circumstances. Without question, Augusta National should abandon its antiquated discriminatory membership policies and admit women. And it should have no racial or religious criteria for admittance either. Wake up, it’s the twenty-first century, for crying out loud…

Let’s look at the bigger picture as well. Major companies and corporations carry a lot of weight in our society, of course. Not just financially —with their advertising and sponsorship dollars — but also politically. They have the power to influence change.

Of course, even in a normal economy, not just in the poor economy we’re currently weathering, corporations exist to make money, and make as much as they can. That’s the nature of the beast.

But those same corporations, whether led by male or female CEOs, have an obligation beyond that. An obligation to their customers, and the rest of society as a whole, to use both their fiscal and political clout to make a positive impact on our country and even our global community as well.

“When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.“ – Kevin Costner

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